Будущее как предмет социальной теории
The subject of this article is a critical analysis of the “concept of the future” as proposed by the British social theorist, John Urry (1946–2016). The author briefly examines the intellectual legacy of the sociologist and his contribution to the creation of a new social theory, pointing out that Urry’s books that were translated into Russian do not fully represent his scientific work, but reflect the later period of his research activity. What is the Future? was the sociologist’s last book and was published the same year he died: we can consider it as a kind of last will. This testament, however, reflects many aspects of the writings of the last sixteen years of Urry’s life. As Urry observes, he challenges the social sciences with his book because the social sciences are still not concerned the future as a subject of research, giving it to the mercy of futurology. This article gives an answer to the question of whether we can actually consider Urry’s book as such a challenge. The author argues that some kind of theoretical weakness is inherent in Urry’s concept. Thus, the sociologist calls for the theory of complex developing systems to help to analyze the future, but the conclusions he comes to do not have any heuristic value. However, as the author of the article notes, Urry’s book is valuable not as a theory, but as an attempt to talk about the future from the perspective of social philosophy and its focus on practice. On one hand, the sociologist uses rich empirical material when talking about utopias and dystopias such as fiction, cinema, publicistics, and reports of various organizations, as examples. On the other hand, when discussing such problems as 3D-printing, urban spaces without cars, climate change, dystopias, and so forth, Urry uses the method of scenarios in offering four scenarios for each phenomenon considered. These scenarios by themselves already allow us to imagine what the future might look like. The final chapter of the book is dedicated to a “low-carbon civil society” and the conceptualization of responsible-to-nature “natural capitalism.” The author of the article puts a special emphasis on this, considering that this concept should be supplemented by other ideas about the newest — digital — capitalism. Finally, the article considers the question of the relationship of Urry’s social theory with the theory of postmodernism.